Review by Paul Davis
Jesse Malin came to Wolverhampton’s Slade Rooms for the first time in four years and has a Pledge funded album due to be released in the new year. His last visit came on a warm summer evening with the country in the grip of World Cup fever, tonight there’s a chill in the air and it’s Christmas shoppers that are out in large numbers on the streets of Wolverhampton.
Opening up the show is singer/songwriter Don Dilego who also happens to collaborate with Malin. He hints at his extra duties later when he tells us what a great bass player Jesse Malin has. Most of his set is one man, guitar and harmonica. It must get lonely up there though as he invites members of the other support act Hollis Brown up on stage to help out, providing at times additional guitar, percussion and harmonies. Dilego tells us he can only see the people at the front who he refers to as the judges. An enjoyable set for the few that had arrived early this evening.
Hollis Brown are New Yorkers on only their second trip to the UK and tonight is their first time in Wolverhampton. Despite being NYC natives it’s no surprise to find they went to Nashville to record their debut album. Their sound is Americana and there’s some sweet Jayhawks style harmonies going on. The title track from the debut album Ride On A Train and new song ‘Wait For Me Virginia’ were particularly enjoyable. Like Dilego, we were to see Hollis Brown again during Malin’s set.
Jesse Malin arrives on stage to an intro tape of ‘Bankrobber’ by The Clash. Malin was a member of punk band D Generation in the 90’s then received much critical acclaim for his debut solo album The Fine Art Of Self-Destruction, released in 2002. The set opens with old favourite ‘Hotel Columbia’ from second album The Heat, but Malin and his band don’t shy away from playing new songs, and the crowd seem happy to hear them.
New single ‘Addicted’ and ‘She Don’t Love Me Now’ are amongst the new songs while ‘Wendy’ is the first song from that acclaimed debut. Malin refers to his forthcoming album, produced by Dilego, as his Chinese Democracy. He hasn’t quite taken as long as Axl Rose, but it’s been a while since Love It To Life. There are some covers tonight too, ‘If I Should Fall From Grace With God’ by The Pogues and a killer version of ‘Heartbreaker’ by The Rolling Stones. Malin remembers appearing at a record store in Wolverhampton when touring his debut album and dedicates ‘Queen Of The Underworld’ to those who were there.
His occasional story telling between songs is Springsteen-esque. (Malin recorded ‘Broken Radio’ with Bruce on third album Glitter In The Gutter.) Like Springsteen takes you to the boardwalks of New Jersey, Jesse Malin takes you to the sidewalks of New York City. He finds the front of stage barrier a little over the top (“we didn’t have this in London last night”) but as is tradition at his shows he ends up joining the audience anyway during ‘Bar Life’. With everyone including Malin sat on the Slade Rooms floor, do gigs get more intimate than this? He tells us that he was a big Slade fan and he’s been sending pictures of the venue back home.
Set closer ‘All The Way From Moscow’ is preceded by another story about when the drummer first auditioned (“He was like Animal from The Muppets”). The encore begins with ‘Brooklyn’, just Jesse Malin’s voice, acoustic guitar and piano before the full band plays a rousing ‘Burning The Bowery. The night ends with all of Hollis Brown back on stage, it’s pretty crowded up there but it’s a real feel-good way to end things. All who showed their support tonight will be looking forward to more dates once the new album is released.